This isn’t the first time Google has threatened such a move; in 2012 the company outlined plans for a similar policy, eventually coming under fire from prominent members of the music and movie industry for not doing enough to tackle the burgeoning piracy issue. This time, however, Google claims its new measures will make a noticeable difference.
Speaking about the move in a post on her blog last Friday, senior copyright counsel for Google, Katherine Oyama, had this to say: “In August 2012 we first announced that we would downrank sites for which we received a large number of valid DMCA notices.”
“We’ve now refined the signal in ways we expect to visibly affect the rankings of some of the most notorious sites. This update will roll out globally starting next week.”
Details on which sites would receive the downranking treatment have yet to be revealed, nor how much the offending sites will be penalised. Under pressure to remove such sites from their listing completely, however, Google remains resolute, claiming: “Even for the websites that have received the highest numbers of notices, the number of noticed pages is typically only a tiny fraction of the total number of pages on the site. It would be inappropriate to remove entire sites under these circumstances.”
It remains to be seen just how this move will affect piracy, but leading music industry bodies are already making calls for rival search engines, such as Bing and Yahoo, to follow Google’s lead and tackle online piracy once and for all.